'''Horatio Alger, Jr.''' (; January 13, 1832 – July 18, 1899) was a prolific 19th-century American author
, best known for his many young-adult fiction
novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty. His writings were characterized by the "rags to riches
" narrative, which had a formative effect on America during the Gilded Age
Essentially, all of Alger's juvenile novels share the same theme, known as the "Horatio Alger myth
": a teenage boy works hard to escape poverty. Often though, it is not the hard work itself that rescues the boy from his fate, but rather some extraordinary act of bravery or honesty. The boy might return a large sum of lost money or rescue someone from an overturned carriage. This brings the boy—and his plight—to the attention of a wealthy individual.
Alger secured his literary niche in 1868 with...